Between the Lines

So many conversations we could have had. So many I wanted to have, about so many lines from any Josh Ritter song. Or about when you told me you had a happy childhood and I thought until recently I had too.
But then the words got caught in the back of my throat when I started thinking about how differently I see that now, and how much damage all those spanks did, and how it stops me from speaking. Like when you told me about your first girlfriend, and I thought about telling you about how I was a virgin on my wedding night, after 10 years of dating a man who would later become so emotionally abusive I lost any sense of self worth. It all felt like too much to speak out loud.

I tell myself all the words he surely meant to sayI’ll talk until the conversation doesn’t stay onWait for me, I’m almost readyWhen he meant let go                   -Sara Bareilles

I listen to Between the Lines and grieve the loss of something that might have been so good. How I wished we could have loved each other forever. So perfect it seemed. But I’m only beginning to work through the damage of not being allowed to develop my own autonomy as a young child. My “no” never had any power. Compliance was my only safety.
I have agency. I know this in my head, but not in my bones. Instead, my muscles ache and knot up with chronic pain. My body absorbed all those years of disdain and hatred from the man who slept to my right for 11 years.

11 years later, I’m still trying to work it out.

The words got caught in the back of my throat, and you never really knew me. Never knew what thoughts were in my head. Didn’t know much beyond my dad recently dying. And not being close with my mom. I never told you about the damage they did with their high-control religious fundamentalism, or my abusive marriage, or how much I needed to heal, which could really only be done in a relationship like the one I wanted with you. You hugged me once, so tight and long, I thought I might heal with you. Still, I could not get a single word out.
Instead, we traded physical for emotional intimacy, which was nice but didn’t last. And I think it was an easier substitute for something that could have been so much richer. So now I am here, devastated at the loss of something that could have been, but never was. Like a seed that sprouted, only to get scorched by the sun for lack of water. There wasn’t enough time or intention. I wasn’t brave, strong, or whole enough. You weren’t available or safe enough. What a tragedy.
You filled baskets of rocks as I worked to put a good face on it. We made a good team, I thought. Then it was over. 

Author: Becky

California-based photographer and designer, working to cultivate beauty

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